Slaves waiting to be sold
The slave was a slave for life, and any children were destined to slavery. It was the very empire of death, a slow death, even if the life-span of the slave, virtually throughout the Americas, was estimated at seven years. Work under the supervision of a taskmaster was from sunrise to sunset and was enforced by the discipline of the whip….
Tortures reserved for rebellious or lazy slaves were not evidence of the particular cruelty of some masters, but simply part of the structure of the daily practice of slavery. To apply a red-hot iron to the tender parts of the slave, to tie him to a stake so that insects gnawed him to death, to burn him alive, to chain him, to set dogs or snakes at his heels, to rape negresss, served above all to express absolute domination.
Laennec Hurbon, “The Slave Trade and Black Slavery in America,” Concilium, 111
Women working in the cotton fields
By 1650, there were more blacks than Europeans in the Americas. Africans were superior to any other national group in their ability to resist disease because they’d been exposed to the greatest variety of human illnesses. All of Europe agreed that without black slave labor America would face absolute ruin. A decree of King Louis XIV of France from 1670 reads, “There is nothing which contributes more to the development of the colonies and the cultivation of their soil than the laborious toil of the Negroes” (Williams, 136).